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Mental health services available for veterans affected by events unfolding in Afghanistan

A psychiatric expert with ProMedica said feelings of sadness, hopelessness and guilt from not being overseas are normal.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Evacuations resumed Friday in Kabul, one day after a devastating suicide bombing at the city's airport killed well over 100 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

In the hours following, Navy veteran and Ohio State Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) released a statement, urging people to reach out to service members struggling with the news.

"Please call and check on your battle-buddies and their families," he said.

As a member of the military who served in Afghanistan from December 2010 through July 2011, I grieve for my fellow...

Posted by State Representative Haraz N. Ghanbari on Thursday, August 26, 2021

As new pictures and videos are shared from Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued a warning that those who have served overseas may be feeling strong emotions as they're reminded of their own deployment.

"Especially for veterans with PTSD, this is going to kick up a lot of memories, a lot of flashbacks, maybe even nightmares for people because they're being exposed to things they've experienced in the past. PTSD pulls them into thinking they're experiencing it in the present," ProMedica psychiatric nurse practitioner Tiffany Pottkotter said.

She said that this is a really hard time for veterans and even those who haven't served. For those feeling helpless and far away, she explained that the best thing is to get your support system around you.

"Whether that be your counselor, your spouse, a friend, a support group, there are so many resources out there, use them," Pottkotter said.

If you are that person providing support, Pottkotter said there are resources online to educate yourself on what your loved one may be going through; but the biggest thing is, to be a supportive person.

"Listen to them. Understand if they are having a flashback, how to support them, how to assist them in a grounding technique and how to get them through that moment," Pottkotter said.

Pottkotter made clear that those feelings of sadness, hopelessness and guilt from not being over there, are normal.

"Don't feel sad or guilty about having these feelings. These are normal, this is what our brain takes us through in times of trauma and unrest and especially if you are suffering from PTSD, this is part of the process," Pottkotter said.

If you or someone you know may be feeling this renewed trauma, take a look at this list of mental health resources for veterans.

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